Jason Brough

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Oilers need to ‘stay out of the box’ against Sharks

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It was a spirited Edmonton team that made its long-awaited return to the playoffs.

Perhaps a bit too spirited.

The aggressive Oilers ended up shorthanded six times against the Sharks, whose comeback Wednesday started with a power-play goal early in the second period.

Stream Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

It wasn’t just the goal that hurt the Oilers, either. It was all the time they had to spend on the kill.

“We went over why the game turned, and it’s pretty simple,” forward Jordan Eberle said, per the Edmonton Journal. “We got caught a lot with long shifts and just didn’t have any energy. You get a guy like Brent Burns spending 10 minutes on the power play, it’s not going to help your cause.”

The Oilers led 2-0 after 20 minutes of Game 1. But the Sharks were in control from the second period onward, and they eventually won it, 3-2, in overtime.

Game 2 goes tonight in Edmonton.

“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” said Eberle.

A remarkable turnaround for Jake Allen

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He was better in February, and brilliant in March.

Now he’s the hottest goalie in the NHL, coming off a 51-save triumph Wednesday in Minnesota.

Not bad for a guy who was so messed up mentally that his coach left him at home for a road trip in January.

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Indeed, it’s been quite the roller-coaster season for Blues goalie Jake Allen — even if he won’t admit the full extent of it.

“It was three weeks for me that was real tough, but other than that I thought I had a really good year,” Allen told reporters after he stole Game 1 for St. Louis.

It was more than three weeks, Jake.

Allen’s save percentage was .903 in November, and .892 in December. By that point, he was already upset about his numbers. Then January hit and things really went south. That month he finished with a ghastly .841 save percentage, and head coach Ken Hitchcock was fired on the first day of February.

It may not be a coincidence that Allen’s numbers improved the moment Mike Yeo took over behind the bench.

“Hitch had a short leash, probably shorter than most coaches in the league,” Allen told the Post-Dispatch at the end of the regular season. “That’s just the way he is; he was never going to change. That wasn’t something that I was going to be able to talk him out of.”

And Yeo?

“He tells you what he wants out of you and it’s pretty straightforward,” Allen said. “I really respect that and he’s a guy that I love to play for. He always comes to the rink with the right mindset, the right attitude, and it rubs off on us. It rubs off on me.”

Game 2 of the Blues-Wild series goes tonight in Minnesota.

A rough Game 1 for Schmaltz, who needs to be better

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Nick Schmaltz‘s first NHL playoff game could’ve gone better.

The 21-year-old rookie was on the ice for the Nashville Predators’ only goal last night in Chicago, and he could’ve done a better job to stop it.

The goal ended up being the winner in a 1-0 Blackhawks defeat, and Schmaltz found himself demoted to the fourth line for much of the remainder of the game.

Stream Blackhawks vs. Predators on NBC Sports

As you can see in the replay, Schmaltz failed to check Ryan Johansen at the blue line, taking out linemate Richard Panik in the process. Johansen was then able to get a pass to Filip Forsberg, who one-timed it for Viktor Arvidsson to tip home.

Now, granted, it was only one game. Nothing to panic about. Schmaltz will probably be back with Panik and Jonathan Toews for Game 2.

But it’s worth monitoring, because the chemistry that Schmaltz found with Toews and Panik was one of the good stories this season for the Blackhawks, who searched for much of the year for a left winger to play with their captain.

Another rookie, Tanner Kero, replaced Schmaltz last night, and Kero acquitted himself fairly well.

Bottom line: whoever ends up filling the spot alongside Toews and Panik will need to be good, otherwise it could be a problem for the ‘Hawks.

USA Hockey names 15 players to Worlds roster

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USA Hockey named 15 players to its initial World Championship roster today.

It’s a mostly young group, including NHL prospects Jordan Greenway (Wild), J.T. Compher (Avs), and Cal Petersen (Sabres).

But there are also some veterans, the oldest being Jimmy Howard, 33, of the Red Wings.

Here’s the full list of 15:

In case you’re wondering, Daniel Brickley is an undrafted 22-year-old. Despite drawing significant NHL interest, he decided to return to school for his junior year next season.

The 2017 Worlds will be held May 5-21 in Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. The Americans will be coached by Jeff Blashill.

DeBoer calls talk of Sharks’ slump ‘totally ludicrous’

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Pete DeBoer thinks too much was made of the Sharks’ late-season slide that cost them first place in the Pacific Division.

It was just a “bit of a stumble,” according to the head coach. Nothing too serious.

Certainly, it was no reason to believe that San Jose couldn’t go on another deep playoff run.

“I mean, I’ve heard people say we were bad for two months. That’s totally ludicrous,” DeBoer said Thursday, the day after his team took a 1-0 series lead on the Oilers.

Watch Sharks vs. Oilers on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

“We lost three or four games in regulation in a 25-game span between January and mid-March. And then we hit mid-March and we had injuries to (Melker) Karlsson, (Marc-Edouard) Vlasic and (Logan) Couture, a bunch of different guys.

“Yes, our game slipped a little bit, and we had a bit of a stumble. But it was two and a half weeks. It wasn’t two months. I always knew we would get it back, and we did.”

The Sharks did finish the regular season with three wins out of four. That being said, they looked to be in tough after last night’s first period in Edmonton. Connor McDavid and the Oilers had a 2-0 lead, and the crowd at Rogers Place was in a frenzy.

It was at that point the defending Western Conference champs took over. The Sharks ended up outshooting the Oilers, 34-9, the rest of the way. They won the game, 3-2, in overtime, grabbing home-ice advantage in the series.

“From the second period on, we had control of that game,” Couture told reporters afterwards. “It was just a matter of time before the puck was going to go in.”

Game 2 goes Friday in Edmonton.

And with Games 3 and 4 in San Jose, the pressure’s squarely on the Oilers to avoid a 2-0 deficit.